“Frankenstein” a gothic horror, written by Mary Shelley in 1818, can be interpreted as a subtle autobiography; whose narrative reflects on the characters throughout the story. It was written at the time where the Romantic period replaced the age of reason, the time where dreams and ideas replaced logic and science. The two main characters in the story, Victor and the monster are used as metaphors for this. Shelley uses them to make social and personal comments about the time when the book was written. Shelly’s mother died only nine days after her birth.
At the beginning of the novel, Victor’s mother dies and Safia also has no mother. Walton’s diary is 9 months long being the time it takes to have a baby. Before she wrote the book she lost many children. Shelly had a lonely life, hardly spending any time with her father and losing her husband after a short marriage; Victor shows signs of being a bad parent when he abandons his creation. After Shelley eloped with her lover, Percy Shelley in 1814, they travelled the continent together; Walton travels all over the world and Safia travels far with her father.
Shelley also stayed in Geneva; Victor’s family home is here. There is a relationship between Shelly’s life and the characters; Victor’s father was against his studies and refused to support him, Victor’s father did not understand or accept his way of thinking. Shelley spent most of her childhood writing. Victor and the monster were born and raised in very different ways, the latter by nature and the former by nurture. Victor was brought up by his parents with his siblings in his family home in Geneva. He had a happy childhood and was naturally very intelligent:
“My mother’s tender caresses and my father’s smile of benevolent pleasure while regarding me are my first recollections” At this point in the novel, Victor is considered to be a young, happy little boy and has all the qualities of a kind person taught to him by his parents who play a vital and unique role in his upbringing. Victor’s parents bestowed love and affection on him. By the end of the novel, Victor is considered to be a bad person who lacks human qualities. This quote does not relate to Shelly’s childhood, as she did not have a happy one as it was plagued with misery.
The monster however brought himself into the world by nature. After Victor deserted him immediately after his creation the monster was left to look after himself. Unlike Victor he was shown no examples or given any rules. Part of the debate at the time the novel was written was which was better: nature or nurture. After being abandoned by Victor and rejected by society, the monster flees to the woods and brings himself up by learning from nature the elements, senses and English language: “I found a fire and was overcome with delight at the warmth I experienced from it.
In my joy I thrust my hand into the live embers, but quickly withdrew it again with a cry of pain” As the monster had no one to teach him he did not know about fire and was surprised when it burnt him; he learnt from nature. At first, the monster cannot understand his emotions causing him to experience many at the same time. When the monster is in the wood, Shelley uses an extract from “Tintern Abbey” to illustrate what she is expressing bout the monster’s emotions: “…. haunted him like a passion: the tall rock, the mountain and the deep and gloomy wood,…. ” This extract shows the reader how the monster feels.
By using this extract, Shelley manipulates the reader’s feelings and encourages sympathy from them. This poem was written by William Wordsworth also at the time of Romanticism. Romanticism was the period of time where reason and logic were shifted away from man’s thinking and people started to believe that dreams and imagination played a vital role in their modern day society. It was expressed in many ways: poetry, music painting and many other arts. It happened between 1789 and 1830. The ideas are a vital backbone in the story; Society thought it would be impossible to recreate life but Victor manages to do it because of his dreams.